“As a member of the Hazara diaspora, safe in my home in the U.S., it is painful for me to sit front of my computer and write about yet another mass killing. Are you not listening? Why does this continue to happen? … I am calling today for the urgent attention of the United States and the international community. We must re-think the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The lives of the Hazara depend on it.”
On Saturday, three car bombs detonated in Kabul, Afghanistan, in front of the Sayed Al-Shuhada school—specifically targeting young girls. At least 85 people were killed. The escalating violence in the country has been made worse by the recent Biden administration decision to withdraw troops from the region by September 11 of this year.
This interview between Kamila Sidiqi, an Afghan serial entrepreneur, and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon was conducted just days before the Kabul weekend attack, and gives a sense of the simultaneous sense of fear, hope and dread on the ground in Afghanistan.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared critical of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. “This is what we call a wicked problem. There are consequences both foreseen and unintended of staying and of leaving,” she told CNN.
“As a Hazara and a woman from Afghanistan, I am losing hope for the future of my country. I fear the U.S. withdrawal could contribute to the loss of 20 years of progress, the collapse of the current Afghan government and the start of another civil war in Afghanistan.”
In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this week, senators from across the political spectrum expressed concerns about the security situation in Afghanistan post-U.S. and NATO withdrawal this year. Committee members repeatedly expressed concerns on U.S. counter-terrorism operations, as well the future of human rights and women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Habiba Sarabi, Fatima Gailani, Sharifa Zurmati Wardak and Fawzia Koofi are the only women negotiators representing the Afghan state in negotiating peace with the Taliban. They urged a premature U.S. exit would “result in state collapse and collapse of institutions.”
In response to a ban on singing in Afghanistan, ordinary people and celebrities alike took to Twitter, recording themselves singing in videos posted to social media with the hashtag #IAmMySong.
Among Afghan women, there is a sense of frustration, disappointment and fear that a rushed peace process that excludes women will not have a long-term outcome—allowing a Taliban comeback that could roll back the progress made over the last two decades.
The Biden administration plans to review and assess the Doha agreement, signed by the Trump administration with the Taliban, Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. Sullivan also ensured the U.S. support “for protecting the extraordinary gains made by Afghan women, girls and minority groups.”
In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Antony Blinken promised to protect the hard-won gains of Afghan women and girls if confirmed as secretary of state. He said the Taliban cannot be trusted with U.S. national security, policing Al-Qaeda and ISIS regarding attacking U.S., and that a further withdrawal of U.S. troops will be conditions-based.